“At the end of the day, technique is very important in the context of my work.”
The cutouts of Henri Matisse, the op-art of Bridget Riley and the colors of Brazil’s world famous Carnival are all influences that the Brazilian abstract artist Beatriz Milhazes crowds into her paintings in an explosion of color and form.
About which the Deutsche Bank Collection’s Achim Drucks wrote in his 2012 essay No Fear of Beauty “Milhazes's paintings hover between a stunning ornamental beauty and an overload of forms, colors, styles, and quotes. It is not the kind of beauty in which the eye can rest, however; instead, it absorbs the gaze and threatens to overpower the viewer.”
It is in stark contrast to the majority of her contemporaries in Brazilian art scene.
As she explained in the catalogue for her 2009 exhibition at Paris’ Fondation Cartier "We don't have a strong tradition of painting in Brazil, and especially not painting with color. When I became internationally known as a Brazilian painter, the international audience thought that I came out of a strong tradition of Brazilian painting. This is because there is a general lack of information on Latin American art. Due to Spanish colonization, some countries like Mexico or Venezuela have a strong painting tradition. This is not the case for Brazil. The most important and well-known Brazilian art is conceptual and constructivist. There is no special interest in color. Brazil is a colorful country, but its art isn't. That is why people get confused. I use elements from my culture, and color is one of them, but I'm the only one to do so."
Enthralled by Matisse’s collaged cutouts and equally impressed by the smoothness of Riley’s op-art renderings Milhazes has developed a unique approach to applying paint to her canvases. She first paints a motif for inclusion in a work on plastic which she then glues to the canvas. When the paint has dried Milhazes then peels off the plastic. A process she repeats until the work is complete.
And about which she has said "I like the resulting smooth texture, the way in which the painting seems 'frozen' in time. I love painting, but I do not want the texture of the brushstrokes or the 'hand' of the painter to be visible on my canvases."
Milhazes motifs are abstracted renderings inspired by Brazilian culture, ceramics, lacework, carnival decoration, music, and Colonial baroque architecture.
As she told Dirimart Gallery’s bi-annual publication RES Art World/World Art “I need to have all these elements and put them together. They are in some sort of a conflict that will never really end up anywhere. There are not peaceful surfaces. There should be some struggle on the surface and then create some activities for your eyes.”
Milhazes’ current exhibition Marola is on show at New York’s James Cohan gallery until the 28th of November.